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Mizzou Hoops Player Review: Kobe Brown

The only remaining member of the 2020 class was a stalwart in Mizzou’s starting five, a dependable two-way player who improved in the paint and on the boards.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Georgia vs Missouri Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

And just like that, we can officially put a button on the 2020-2021 Missouri Tigers.

OK fine, some of you did that long ago. That’s a totally reasonable reaction to have too, considering the less than ideal way the season unfolded over the final few weeks. But while y’all have been happily looking toward football season, we’ve been sifting through KenPom numbers (and, let’s be honest, the transfer portal) to figure out who was successful during Missouri’s NCAA Tournament season, and who could be added to put the Tigers over the hump (or at least the first round) in 2021-2022.

Today, we’re covering the final one of the two remaining rotation players (we’re excluding Jordan Wilmore due to a lack of substantial playing time) who will carry over from last year to the next — Kobe Brown. Brown was the standout member of the once-vaunted 2020 class, and he continued impressing in his sophomore year, becoming one of the five starters for almost the entire season. He’ll undoubtedly be a team leader next season as one of two upperclassmen with multiple years of experience in the program.

To catch up on the rest of the players in this series, you can click any one of the links below.

Kobe Brown By the Numbers

Season Minutes % Offensive Rating Usage Rate Points % Effective FG % True Shooting % Off. Rebounding % Def. Rebounding % Assist Rate Turnover %
Season Minutes % Offensive Rating Usage Rate Points % Effective FG % True Shooting % Off. Rebounding % Def. Rebounding % Assist Rate Turnover %
2020-2021 52.8 101.4 21 10.9 51.7 52.5 9.7 23.3 8.1 16.6
2019-2020 43.4 92.6 19.8 8.4 46.2 49.6 6.9 17.7 6.6 21.7

What went well?

Brown saw a slight uptick in minutes during his sophomore season, even if it didn’t coincide with a large rise in usage rate. But despite the smaller role, Brown improved as a rebounder, two-point scorer, and all-around offensive player. Brown was already an excellent rebounder his freshman season, so much so that I predicted he’d be the team’s leading rebounder in 2020-2021. Brown kind of followed up on my prediction, leading the team in defensive rebounding rate and finishing second on the offensive glass. Kobe also saw his turnover rate shrink by about five percent and increased his assist percentage by a few points as well. Most importantly, Brown became a much more efficient scorer from close range, potting over 60 percent of his two-point shots. In SEC play, Brown finished ninth overall in two-point field goal percentage at 60.9 percent.

What didn’t go well?

Brown’s overall shooting efficiency went up in 2020-2021, but the increase didn’t extend to every area of the court. In fact, Brown’s three-point shooting stagnated in the mid 20s while his free throw shooting got markedly worse. Brown was a 25.3 three-point shooter his freshman season, but his 74.4 free throw percentage showed some mechanical promise. Yet, his free throw percentage dove to just above 50 percent this season, with his three-point percentage dropping ever so slightly to a round 25 percent. Of course, you may still take the tradeoff, with Brown shooting over 60 percent from two. But even a 30 percent three-point jumper and free throws closer to 70 percent would start to put Kobe in borderline All-SEC territory with the close range numbers he put up this season.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Missouri vs Arkansas
Kobe Brown was an improved interior scorer and rebounder in 2021-2022. Can he take another step in his junior year?
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

What’s next?

Wow man. It’s hard to believe we plowed through all these previews and it feels like we should be done and we haven’t even talked about the one guy who contributed the most last year... and is still coming back.

Kobe Brown is nearly the forgotten man at this point. He started every game for the Tigers this past season, played more than 50% of the minutes, and is virtually the only real returning production from an NCAA tournament team. But with the exits being fairly prominent, and the focus being heavily on the incoming players, Brown has been sitting in this weird middle ground of the mostly ignored. But after just scoring in double figures twice in the first 15 games, Brown became a much more consistent offensive threat in the last 11. He averaged 10.5 points and nearly 7 rebounds a game, proving he can be productive.

The one missing element for Brown in the ‘next step’ is his outside shooting. Even in those last 11 games he still only made 27.6% of his three-point attempts and has only made about 25% of this attempts since arriving in Columbia. Brown has already shown how versatile he can be in nearly every facet of the game. If he can be a little bit more of a consistent outside shooter, he can truly become the player Cuonzo Martin believes he can be.

Sam Snelling